King Tuff (Photo by Wyndham Garnett)
Kyle Thomas, who performs as King Tuff, released Smalltown Stardust, a new full-length studio album, via Sub Pop Records in January. Now, King Tuff launches a tour that includes a show at DC9 nightclub on Tuesday, March 21.
Kyle — who hails from Brattleboro, Vermont — set out to write a love letter to those cherished moments of inspiration and to the small town that formed him. The one where he first nurtured his songwriting impulses, bouncing ideas off other like-minded artists. The kind of place where the changing of the seasons always delivered a sense of perspective and fresh artistic inspiration. Where he felt a deeper connection with nature and sense of community that had once been so close at hand.
“I wanted to make an album to remind myself that life is magical,” he said.
And so, Thomas seized upon his memories, creating what he calls “an album about love and nature and youth.” The result is Smalltown Stardust, a spiritual, tender and ultimately joyous record.
Watch the official music video for “Smalltown Stardust” on YouTube:
While so much of Smalltown Stardust invokes idealized traces and places of Kyle Thomas’s past, the album’s recording process made his communal vision a reality. Thomas’s Los Angeles home in 2020 formed a micro-scene of sorts, with housemates Meg Duffy (Hand Habits) and Sasami Ashworth recording their own heralded albums (2021’s Fun House and 2022’s Squeeze, respectively) at the same time.
A shared spirit dominated an era spent largely on the premises, with Kyle serving as engineer and contributor to both records, and Ashworth working as co-producer on Smalltown Stardust. Kyle described the time with a fitting metaphor: “I’ve always thrived around other people making things. You want to bloom with each other.”
Ashworth’s contributions are vital to the album: she co-wrote a majority of the record and contributed vocals, arrangements, and instrumentation to each song. As Kyle said, “I tried to follow her vision a lot. It helps to open your world to collaborators. You always get something completely different than you would have expected.”
Tuesday, March 21
Doors @ 7:30pm